Sen. James Lankford knocked the media coverage of Labor Secretary Alex Acosta Wednesday detailing the deal he struck with financier Jeffrey Epstein as a U.S. attorney after his first accusation of sexually abusing teenage girls.
“What I’m disappointed at is so much of the coverage in the last really 48 hours on every network has been about President Trump and Acosta as labor secretary, and we’ve not really spent a lot of time talking about the girls that were abused in the process and trafficked and about Epstein and what the horrific acts that he really did,” the Oklahoma Republican said on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” adding the media should be focused on the crimes Mr. Epstein’s currently been charged with.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said Mr. Acosta was found by a judge to have violated the law by moving forward with the deal without informing Mr. Epstein’s victims.
“Doesn’t that alone warrant an apology from Alex Acosta?” Mr. Blitzer asked.
Mr. Lankford said the details should go public, but added his “impression is a lot of the push right now is because he’s a Trump Cabinet member and not because of the case.”
“My focus would be let’s focus on him as an attorney, not as a Cabinet member … and find out what mistakes were made and how do we never do this again and make sure there aren’t some other individuals in other places that we had a prosecution that was not fully fulfilled,” the senator said.
Mr. Acosta rejected calls to resign Wednesday, saying he was the one who made sure Mr. Epstein served jail time and registered as a sex offender the first time he was accused of sexually abusing teen girls and blamed Florida prosecutors for wanting to let him “walk free.”
Mr. Epstein was arrested on Monday on charges of child sex trafficking. He has pleaded not guilty.
• Jeff Mordock contributed to this report.
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